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Ruairí swaps road tales in Áras with Michael D

Lahinch author honoured by president for his book on hitch-hiking adventures around Ireland

LAHINCH author, charity founder and campaigner, Ruairí McKiernan has been lauded by the President for his new book, Hitching for Hope – A Journey into the Heart and Soul of Ireland.
President Michael D Higgins said the work “offers hope” during turbulent times. He described the best-selling book as being “in the fine tradition of a search for what is most valuable in the different spaces of Ireland and how they might help us craft a new way forward together.”
He added that it is “empathic in approach, well written, and crucially, it offers hope.”
President recently invited Ruairí to present the book at Áras an Uachtaráin. The event had been due to take place last year but was postponed due to pandemic restrictions.
Although Ruairí had been to the Áras on numerous occasions previously, while serving on the Council of State during 2012-2019, he said this trip proved to be particularly memorable.
“This was my first big outing anywhere in ages, perhaps in over a year,” he said.
“What better place to start moving around again than a trip to the Áras to meet Michael D. It felt like a very special visit.
“There is always a warm welcome in the Áras from the President, Sabina, and the team. We chatted for a couple hours, covering everything from the President’s childhood in Clare, and the importance of community spirit in the post-Covid world, to biodiversity, the war in Gaza, the benefits of yoga, human connection, and lots more.
“We also swapped hitching stories, and I got to hear about some of his old hitchhiking adventures, which was great.
“While we agreed that hitching might never return to its glory days, we both feel the spirit of human connection and support for each other is more important than ever.”
Hitching for Hope, which is published internationally by Chelsea Green, is described as ‘part memoir, part travel adventure, and part manifesto for hope and healing during troubled times’.
Other notable fans of the book include Christy Moore, Damien Dempsey, Patricia Scanlan, Frances Black and Peggy Seeger.
Ruairí wrote the book based on his hitchhiking adventures around Ireland following a period of severe burnout, which coincided with the post Celtic-Tiger recession.
He had been on the crest of a wave after building up the SpunOut.ie youth organisation and winning numerous awards and accolades for his work before exhaustion and ill-health struck.
“If I’m honest, I was feeling a bit lost in life at the time,” he said.
“I had been overdoing it and pushing too hard, and it seems Ireland as a whole was in a similar place. We were in a recession, and there was a lot of depression, anger and frustration in the air. It was a time not unlike now in many ways.”
Ruairí hit the road on a hitchhiking pilgrimage meeting people of all walks of life while reflecting on his journey to that point and his thoughts and hopes for the future.
It was a life-changing adventure that in turn, led him to write the book, which became a number one bestseller. The Irish Times recently described it as “a perfect match for these unprecedented times”.
Hitching for Hope is available in paperback from online retailers and from all main bookshops, as well as in ebook and audiobook versions. More details are available at www.hitchingforhope.com.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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